Ancient Astronauts in Popular Culture - Novels and Comics

Novels and Comics

  • Garrett P. Serviss' Edison's Conquest of Mars, published in 1898, is perhaps the first example of the ancient astronaut theory, predating Fort's book by over 20 years. In it, the narrator learns that the Martians from The War of the Worlds visited Earth around 7500 BC, enslaving the inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent and bringing them to Egypt to make monuments of their conquest, including the Giza pyramid complex and the Great Sphinx (which is actually the face of the leader of the Martian expedition). Afterwards, a plague caused them to leave, with the Martians taking a number of their human slaves to Mars to serve them there, until an expedition led by Thomas Edison freed their descendants in the early 20th century.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu (1926) and At the Mountains of Madness (1931).
  • Wilson Tucker's The Time Masters (1953) has a private detective who turns out to be Gilgamesh, who was a survivor of a starship crash thousands of years ago.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan (1959) depicts the whole of human development and civilization to be a medium used by aliens for relaying messages to an alien space-explorer stranded on one of Saturn's moons.
  • The March 1961 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact contains a piece by Arthur W. Orton entitled "The Four-Faced Visitors of Ezekiel". Although described in the magazine's Table of Contents as a short story, it actually takes the form of a pseudo-factual essay presenting a verse-by-verse analysis of Ezekiel's vision and interpreting this in terms of an encounter with ancient astronauts. In this respect the essay mirrors J. F. Blumrich's book The Spaceships of Ezekiel (1974), despite predating it by more than a decade.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space (1964–present), humanity is descended from aliens called the Pak.
  • Arthur C. Clarke has written several stories utilizing the theme, most famously in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). In his novel Rendezvous with Rama, a religion called the "Fifth Church of Christ, Cosmonaut" is mentioned, whose central tenet is that Jesus was an alien visitor.
  • The Tintin adventure Flight 714 (1968 by Hergé) features a temple built to honor ancient astronauts and a scientist who acts as Earth's ambassador to them.
  • Philip K. Dick explores this theory in his VALIS trilogy, wherein race of ancient astronauts is thought to have placed an information-streaming satellite in orbit around Earth.
  • James P. Hogan wrote of an alien race which inhabited a destroyed fifth planet between Mars and Jupiter and are discovered in the hulk of an abandoned spacecraft on Ganymede in his five-volume Giants series. (1977-2005.)
  • Douglas Adams used a satirical version of the theory in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series (1979–1992).
  • Buzz Aldrin's and John Barnes' novel, Encounter With Tiber (1996), deals with the discovery of ancient alien encounters on Earth and Mars, with humanity utilizing recovered alien technology to advance the space program.
  • In David Brin's Uplift Universe series, all known species were brought to sapience through the direct intervention of a known galactic "patron", except for the fabled first sentient species, the Progenitors, and humanity. While most humans take pride at achieving space travel without a patron, some humans (called Danikenites, after Erich von Däniken) and most Galactics believe otherwise.
  • S. M. Stirling's novels The Sky People and In the Courts of the Crimson Kings state that an ancient race of aliens populated Earth, Mars, and Venus with human and animal life. Additionally, the ancient astronaut theme is played in reverse, with the technologically-advanced humans from Earth being seen as advanced gods by the bronze age-level alien natives of Venus and Mars.
  • In William H. Keith, Jr.'s "Heritage Trilogy," a war between the United States and a United Europe (and later between the United States and China) has its roots in the discovery that ancient astronaunts visited Earth on several occasions. Ancient technology found on Mars, the Moon, and Europa change the balance of power on Earth.
  • In Walter Ernsting's The Day the Gods Died, an extraterrestrial civilization is said to have built the ruins of ancient Peru.
  • In the Outlanders novel series by Mark Ellis, the Anunnaki are revealed to have been the culprits behind a devastating nuclear war as well as the Root Race of the so-called Gray aliens.
  • The Marvel comic series The Eternals deals with robotic aliens (the Celestials) who had advanced the evolution of apes into man, as well as two sister races, the Eternals and the Deviants, who resembled "gods" and "demons" respectively. It is also noted that their advanced test eventually lead to the X-gene in mutants.
  • Yoshiki Takaya's manga series Bio Booster Armor Guyver, later adapted several times into animated form and twice into a pair of americanized films, featured the idea that all life on earth was created by an organization of various alien beings as biological weapons intended for use in interstellar war, which were later abandoned for reasons unknown, and thus were never taken into space. According to the series, human beings are actually a 'first stage' organism that can be further mutated into monstrous creatures called Zoanoids, which supposedly account for many modern-day myths of vampires and werewolves. The comic features an alien armor supposedly used by the aliens themselves which remains on Earth and is possessed by a high-school student. One of the principal characters, the most highly advanced living weapon, fears the aliens' return and plans to take mankind into space to find a means to confront the aliens on their own terms.
  • In Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People the section "The Recipe" claims to be a translation of an ancient Aztec text from 2000 BC depicting a celebrity awards ceremony. In the context of the book, Erich Von Daniken brought it to the world's attention in his book Weird, Huh? wondering if ancient alien visitors had brought knowledge of celebrity awards shows to the Aztecs.
  • Doris Lessing's Canopus in Argos series describes the Earth from the view of two alien civilisations, responsible for bringing life to the planet.
  • A Japanese/American comic book series, Jason and the Argobots, portrayed the Egyptian Gods as extraterrestrials who became "teachers" to the people of ancient Egypt and who return to protect the Earth from a war between alien races.
  • David Wisniewski's book The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups" mentions in passing a hangar wherein employees of the United States Government "stack all the banged-up flying saucers", implying that the existence of such is well-known, but that the Government attempts to conceal it.
  • A series of short novels known as the Outernet series has, as one of its premises, the idea that Stonehenge was originally built as a means of communication with extraterrestrials.
  • An obscure novel by André Norton called Merlin's Mirror portrays the wizard Merlin as a servant of benevolent "Sky People" who seek to elevate humanity and thwart the "Dark Ones" who wish to keep humanity ignorant. Nimue is described as a servant of the Dark Ones, sent to prevent Merlin from giving humanity a leader (Arthur) who would bring it to the heights of knowledge. The Sky People are once implied to have assumed the guises of already-worshipped gods, such as Cernunnos, in order to communicate with humans, and sometimes are identified as divine by the human characters. Stonehenge is said to be their creation, and Merlin's reconstruction of it a means of establishing a "beacon" whereby the Sky People would find their way to Earth, avoiding their own extinction and humanity's limitation.
  • The Thorgal series by Grzegosz Rosinski and Van Hamme (29 albums) where the main protagonist Thorgal Aegirsson is in fact the son of ancient astronauts.

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